Community Information Ambassador November newsletter

Thank you for being a South Reading Community Information Ambassador.

You’re a South Reading Community Information Ambassador, helping to improve life for our residents. In this second edition, we’ve included information on South Reading’s training college New Directions which offers lots of different courses, and different ways to learn online or in a classroom and flexible timetables daytime and evening. We’ve also included exciting upcoming events, and information from Reading Borough Council, and organisation we hope will be of interest.

Chatting with residents, across South Reading, many of you asked for more guidance on where information on services, events, and other activities can be found. The role of a South Reading Community Information Ambassador is to act as an informal ambassador, (a local influencer!) sharing information with your friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours when you see them when you’re out and about or via text or WhatsApp, or through the community groups or organisations you represent.

We want to help make sure everyone across South Reading has access to good quality information, particularly information about the support, services, and events on offer from Reading Borough Council, Government support available and importantly, locally our crucial community partners and how you help.

We want all residents in South Reading to be included in everything we do.

Spotlight: New Directions College

We’re fortunate to have the largest adult community learning college in Berkshire in South Reading. Over 1600 residents learn at the college and the college wants to provide outstanding skills and community learning that meets the needs of learners, communities, and local employers.

They provide six main ways to learn:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Skills for life provision in maths, English, and digital skills
  • Employment and skills courses, supporting unemployed adults move closer and into the local labour market, including adults with SEND (special educational needs and disability)
  • Education for business management at intermediate to higher levels, early years, and education and training
  • Community learning programmes delivered directly and through a vibrant mix of partners and subcontractors
  • Leisure learning, engaging the local community in courses in fashion and textiles, ceramics, art and craft, and cookery.

They make a great difference to our local community, to our most vulnerable residents, care leavers, those with low maths and English skills, refugees and residents with learning disabilities. Their portfolio of courses is shaped by the needs of the local community and includes courses that support individuals with getting into work, self-development, better mental health, happiness, and participation in the wider community’s life through projects.

Why not see what they have on offer? Or even better, why not share with a fellow resident? Visit the New Directions website to find out more.

Other useful information

The Giving Tree from Connect Reading

The Giving Tree has been running in Reading for over 10 years, with many lives enriched through the kindness of a Secret Santa. Connect Reading are working with member non-profit organisations who ask those they support what gift they most want (up to £15). They ensure the gift they have requested gets to them for Christmas through a public appeal, and by working with local businesses.

If you would like to find out more about the Giving Tree 2023 or have a business that would like to take part, please visit the Connect Reading website.

Whitley Wood Pantry

Run from the Whitley Wood Community Centre, every Tuesday 1 – 3pm. Come along for a free cuppa, and to chat to others. Subsidised food is also available for £5.

Assisting Berkshire Children (ABC) to read – could you help and be a volunteer?

Award winning charity, ABC to read, aim to help as many children as possible improve their reading to enable them to achieve success in education and confidently meet the challenges of adult life.

To meet demand, ABC to read would like more volunteers to help children find the pleasure in reading. Volunteers are vetted, DBS checked and receive full safeguarding training, and support, as part of their initial training.

Can you help improve life outcomes for children? Are you a school that would like quality help to raise literacy standards? Please visit the ABC to read website, call 0118 9511336, or email to find out more.

Whitley CDA Community Café

In addition to weekdays, Whitley CDA’s community cafe will reopen its doors on Saturday mornings. From 9am to 12pm, they will be offering affordable breakfasts in a family friendly environment. Look out for what’s going on each Saturday on the Whitley CDA Facebook page.

Household Support Fund open for applications

Residents on low incomes and those who are struggling to meet the rising cost of living, are eligible to apply for a £125 one-off payment (per household). Please see the press release for further details, and the application portal to start your application.

John Rabson Rec new Skatepark consultation

We are building a new Skatepark on John Rabson Rec. We are asking local riders to help shape the designs by completing this short survey on what’s important to you in a skatepark. Please visit the consultation webpage to take part.

Advice, information, and support services

For free, impartial, and confidential specialist advice to help with a wide range of problems including benefits, debt and money, cost of living, and online support, please contact CommuniCare, Reading Welfare Rights, Citizens Advice Reading.

If you would prefer an in-person informal chat, or assistance with online applications, please visit the Whitley CDA Community Café, in the South Reading Community Hub, on a Monday, Wednesday, or the first Saturday of every month to speak with the organisations.

For specific debt advice, please contact Frontline, who provide expert assistance to those who are disadvantaged by the burden of debt, often through no fault of their own. They also specialise in offering independent, expert benefit advice.

Reading 4 Community

R4C is a free online funding search tool which helps Voluntary Organisations, working for the benefit of our residents, to find grants, awards and other funding to start new projects. Please visit the R4C website for further information.

Polling Station Review

Reading Borough Council is reviewing polling districts, polling places, and polling stations. We encourage you to submit your comments on the review if you have any concerns/comments on a polling place and encourage you to also suggest an alternative location so that this can be considered. Please visit the Reading Borough Council website for further information.

Other events

Have a Go Event – Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) (Saturday 18 November)

On Saturday 18 November from 1:30pm to 5pm, the RBFRS are holding a Have a Go Event at Whitley Wood Fire Station. The event is an opportunity for you to try your hand at some of the tests used during the recruitment process, tour the station and speak with firefighters about their experiences of the role. Please see the RBFRS website for further information.

Reading’s Transport drop-in session (Tuesday 21 November)

On Tuesday 21 November from 1pm to 7pm at Whitley Library, the Council is holding a drop-in session to give residents and visitors to the town an opportunity to have their say on the new draft transport strategy. The draft Reading Transport Strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the future of travel in the borough up to 2040. Please see the Reading Borough Council press release for further information.

South Reading Community Networking Group (Thursday 23 November)

The South Reading Community Networking Group meetings are a chance for all organisations working in the Whitley and Church Wards to come together, share the projects they’re involved in, and provide peer support. To find out more, and to be invited to the next meeting, if not already, please email Rob Stirling, Community Development Officer –

Lantern Making Workshop (Saturday 25 November)

On Saturday 25 November from 1pm to 3pm at Whitley Wood Community Centre, Beautiful Creatures Theatre are holding a free lantern making workshop. The workshop will be supported by artists who will show you how to make your lantern and where to come on the day of the procession. The final procession will take place in the town centre on Saturday 2 December. Please visit the Reading Lantern Parade – Glow Eventbrite page for further details.

If you have any information you’d like to include in the next newsletter or wish to unsubscribe and opt out of being a South Reading Community Information Ambassador, please email Ollie Cassells, Community Project Officer –

Last updated on 18/12/2023